Unmasking


I’ve been thinking about anger quite a bit lately.

I think it’s a fair assessment that I used to be a fairly angry person. While I still have my moments – my fuse can still be short and thin – I don’t necessarily identify with the woman I once was, who wore her anger like a shroud.

I experienced a situation last week where I took a bit of a different approach to anger. I could have let a bad situation fester, swell and ultimately ruin my day. I didn’t want that, but I was having a hard time releasing it. Or, rather, allowing it to release me.

However, I chose growth. I sat with my anger; I recognized it, and questioned it (thank you, Brene Brown).

The anger that I was experiencing was unreasonable, I could see that. So I asked myself, what is this anger, and why, exactly, am I so angry?

It took awhile – it could have been minutes or an hour, maybe even two – but when it hit me my breath left my body in a huff and tears pooled in my eyes.

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It wasn’t anger. It was hurt.

The hurt was tied to a situation that left me vulnerable to a few of my biggest insecurities.

While I’ve been working through this journey of self-discovery and growth, I’ve started to understand why I used to feel easily incensed, consistently angry and hardened. I used my anger as a shield; I used it to disguise what I was really feeling, and it in turn allowed me to turn a blind eye to things about myself I was not yet ready to recognize.

Have you ever taken the time to sit with your anger, and let it tell you what it is masking? Have you taken the time to understand your reactions to situations that arise that bring out emotions before you simply allow them to consume you?

Anger isn’t about anyone else but ourselves. It comes from within us, and it tricks us into thinking something was done to us, that it is about others and their actions or their words. But, if you sit with it and turn it over, it will reveal itself as something else altogether, and it is always trying to tell us something from within. That message is usually a challenging one to hear, because it most likely speaks to our greatest insecurities about ourselves. If you can open yourself to the message, you can use it as an opportunity for strength and growth, not pain.

Diving into your anger, and then peeling back the layers to reveal what it truly is – such as fear, anxiety, hurt or sorrow, which are difficult emotions to connect with and understand – will help you understand yourself, your thoughts and your actions. If you make a practice of it, that practice can help you identify and change your patterns. It will help you to address difficult conversations, and circumstances. It can provide a foundation of strength, and of empathy.

So I challenge you to question yourself. What was the last thing that made you honest-to-goodness angry? And what might it have been, instead?

 

Follow the Leader

Lately, I’ve been a bit fatigued with the conflict between who I am and adopting the characteristics of a person that I want to be; there is an array of emotions that I’m surprised about having on this journey.

How do we acknowledge and appreciate the characteristics of others, yet not lose ourselves in wanting to become something we are not? There are times where the acknowledgement comes as a detriment to ourselves, working against our natural inclinations, our authentic selves, to achieve something that isn’t meant for us. Comparison, and striving to compete, overshadows simply growing into better versions of ourselves.

I need to replace the feeling of lack, the fear, the worry, and the guilt with something. I’ve had so many conversations with women who feel the same.

A friend shared over a Ted Talk recently about filling our lives with joy, and the line at the end, “putting yourself in the path of joy more often,” resonated deeply with me. With this one line, I worked out a bit of the tension I have been feeling.

When you’re on the same level with joy, there is little space for guilt, worry, fear or lack.

If we each were more intentional in chasing what brings us joy, who would we be? If we were joyful, and sought joy on purpose, not by happenstance or by hoping and wishing for it, what would our lives look like? So much of how we view ourselves, others and our lives is rooted in our mindset; comparisons would dissipate and we could acknowledge and easily celebrate that which brings joy to others simultaneously with that which brings joy to ourselves.

As my youngest’s fourth birthday looms tomorrow, I am reflecting a bit on her impact in my life. Our kids teach us more than we could ever hope to learn about life, and she may be my greatest teacher when it comes to joy. She sings with abandon, dances every second that she can, races from discovering one magical thing to the next, and sees wonder in absolutely everything. She is very black and white about what brings her joy; if it doesn’t spark joy, she creates resistance around whatever “it” may be.

As adults, I think we’ve become adept at allowing and justifying the opposite, and we are drowning because of it.

So today, and tomorrow, and the days following, I will try harder to take her cue; I will intentionally seek to put myself in the path of joy. I will celebrate other women for the characteristics I admire in them while reminding myself that there is a wealth of joy to be found within, too.

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All For Naught

“What do you daydream about?”

This was a question posted in a Facebook group that I am a member of over the weekend; the question was posed by a woman whose podcast I am an avid listener of.

She went on to provide the first answer to the question, that her daydream was owning a lake home.

I read that response and I stopped short.

For years, owning a lake home was my daydream.

My husband and I spent hours of time and energy scrolling real estate sites while our own home was on the market.

I sat in front of the very home that we purchased, long before we had even put in an offer, and thought about what life would be like living there. I would drink coffee on the back deck every morning, overlooking the lake. I envisioned rolling out my yoga mat and creating a meditation space in the room with the large picture window. I thought about the evening kayaking I could do with my girls.

It wasn’t until this weekend, when I forced myself to sit down on our dock while our girls swam around with their friends that it struck me; I haven’t truly embraced or acknowledged this accomplishment.

My husband and I achieved our dream of owning a home on the lake. We purchased our home in January; we’ve been living in it part time since then, full time for a few weeks now. I have done exactly none of those things I dreamed about doing here.

I have occupied my time within my real life daydream with checking mundane, trivial things off of the same daily To Do checklists. Not celebrating it, not embracing it, not living the life that I dreamed about having.

This mindset is so easy to crawl into; once something that we want is achieved, we waste little time on truly celebrating it before we’re on to the next thing.

The biggest goal on my Year Compass plan for 2018 was purchasing a lake home; when I sat down to start my Year Compass, our home at the time was under contract. I honestly don’t know that I truly believed that purchasing a house on the lake was something we could accomplish. Yet I sit here today, in a space that I yearned for, knowing that it was what I wanted with every inch of my being, and every day I have occupied it since I have taken it for granted. I haven’t truly embraced or celebrated it. I have drowned the achievement in the details of life.

What accomplishments have you achieved, and then glossed over, only to move on to another?

Take some time and look at where you are. Think about the moments that have gotten you here. Think about what you have now, that you wished for one, two, five years ago. The achievements that should have brought you joy, that you worked so hard towards and were so patient for, that you embraced and then easily tossed aside for the next dream.

Have your daydreams and work to make them a reality, but make sure you stop to enjoy the reality you have created before, during and after you’ve achieved the next, and the next. Each and every accomplishment is a step in knowing that you can do and make anything you desire a reality, but it’s all for naught if you don’t recognize and appreciate where you are and what it took to get there before you make the next leap.

Don’t let your daydreams become a reality, only to never acknowledge how significant that really is.

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